Training for those who help disabled abuse victims

Sep 19, 2012

The recent accusation against former Onondaga County Family Court Judge Brian Hedges, that he sexually molested his 5-year-old deaf niece 40 years ago,  has brought the issue of abuse against the disabled  into the open.

The McMahon Ryan Advocacy Site wants to make sure workers who deal with abuse victims have the tools they need to do the job.

The statistics about abuse in the disabled community are alarming. Lindsey Ryan Anthony, who is deaf, described the problem through an interpreter, Michelle Pilcher.

"One out of two deaf people experience some sort of domestic violence or sexual assault. People with disabilities there's a high rate simply because they're easy targets. They're vulnerable."

Jennifer Shaw of Vera House, works to promote awareness of women with disabilities, says the impact of the disability sometimes makes abuse more of a challenge to deal with or to report.

"It can be compounded by the disability -- where they have a wheelchair and are relying on others for care; whether they have a communication disability that prevents them from fully communicating and telling their experience," said Shaw.

That's one reason McMahon Ryan is holding workshops for the workers who deal with victims of abuse on the frontline. Their aim is to teach them how to get past the unique problems of someone who is disabled.